Scribing through time and space

On Monday 29 February 2016, the second season of NIGHT TERRACE was launched. What is NIGHT TERRACE? I hear you ask. Well, let me answer you. It’s simply the best comedy sci-fi audio series since THE HITCH-HIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. And it’s an Aussie production. And it stars Jackie Woodburne from Neighbours. And it won the 2015 Aurealis Convenors’ Award for Excellence. And it’s had heaps of famous guest stars, including Jane Badler (V), Louise Jameson (Doctor Who), Alan Brough (Spicks and Specks) and Lawrence Leung (Sucker). And I guest star in an episode too (but don’t hold that against the show).

Here’s the official synopsis of the series…

Anastasia Black just wanted a quiet retirement, so she wasn’t exactly thrilled when her house spontaneously started to travel in time and space. Or that she’s stuck with Eddie Jones, who happened to be on her doorstep at the time. Together they’ll face alien invasions, hideous monsters, time paradoxes, implausible spaceships and even a new housemate. But will the house ever take them home?

I’ve been a fan of this series ever since the first season hit the Internet in 2014. As a fan, I was thrilled when the producers asked me to voice a character in the second season ep “A Verb of Nouns”. I portray a mysterious manipulating scribe named… Scribe (quite appropriate, since I’m a writer in real life).

When I asked how I should play the part, writer/director John Richards (co-creator of the ABC series OUTLAND), suggested Catweazle. So I dug deep down into my childhood memories to retrieve Geoffrey Bayldon’s performance from this fabulous 1970s tv show. I only had to read one sentence from the script for John to then advise me to ‘tone it down a bit’. (What? Me? OTT? Surely not!) We got there in the end — a performance I’m rather proud of. And it was heaps of fun!

I’ve listened to the whole of second season already and I think it’s pretty damn BRILLIANT! Role on season three!

Now… you should all go and listen to it.

Check out the official NIGHT TERRACE website for more info and some trailers.

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RFDS book launch with SA Education Minister

I am VERY EXCITED to announce that the Royal Flying Doctor Service adventures will be officially launched by the Honourable Susan Close, South Australia’s Education and Child Development Minister. The launch will take place on Tuesday 1 March at the Leigh Creek Area School. After the minister’s launch speech, I’ll be talking about the inspiration behind the books and a representative of the RFDS will talk about the amazing work they do.

The town of Leigh Creek and the nearby ghost town of Farina, feature in the first of the RFDS adventures, Remote Rescue. So launching the books in that area is not only appropriate, but also so exciting! The launch will be followed by a drive out to Farina for a photo shoot.

My family and I visited Leigh Creek and Farina as part of our outback holiday (which doubled as a research trip) last year. Farina is a spectacular, surreal, visually stunning place, with its ruined buildings and sun-baked landscape. And Leigh Creek is the gateway to SA tourism — the place we stopped for supplies before heading out into the remote, beautifully harsh heart of Australia. These locations were a perfect setting for Remote Rescue and a glorious start to our holiday. Pictured below is my wife and I in Farina…

Dr Close has read Remote Rescue and had this to say:

‘It’s refreshing to read a book that brings the Flinders Ranges to Marree area to life. It’s an exciting book for kids that also tells an important story about how the RFDS keeps people safe across the outback.’

I am thrilled that these books are getting the support of not only the RFDS, but the South Australian government. If there is one thing I will take away from the writing of these books, it’s the importance of the services provided by the Flying Doctors. The RFDS deserves recognition and support. And I hope that these adventure stories will help spread the word and introduce the Flying Doctors to kids across Australia.

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RFDS cover reveal

The first two books in the RFDS ADVENTURES were released last week. Although the next two books won’t be released until May, I can reveal the covers. With thanks to artist Maria Penna, here they are…

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RFDS Publication Day

The first two books in the RFDS ADVENTURES take flight today. Remote Rescue, set in the South Australian ghost town of Farina, and Emergency Echo, set in the remote West Australian town of Mount Magnet, hit bookshop shelves across the country. Continuing my tradition of celebrating each Publication Day with cake, I’ve got some of my Mum’s hazelnut cake. Thanks Mum! :-)

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Merry Christmas

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FLIP ME Publication Day

01/12/15

New editions…

Just in time for Christmas shopping…

Two books in one…

Released into the wild…

Happy Publication Day to the FLIP ME YOU CHOOSE books.

 

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Thank you Sydney

Do authors ever reach the point of being blasé about their careers?

Oh yes, I’ve just had another book published and I’m off on tour again. It’s all so very tiring and inconvenient.

Will I ever get to that point? I certainly hope not. I still get so excited every time a new book is released (I hold it and stare at it and marvel that it has my name on the cover) and I’m thrilled about going on tour.

Last week I spent three days on a book tour in Sydney and surrounding areas, promoting my YOU CHOOSE series. I visited six schools and some bookstores. It was HEAPS of fun. I got to meet so many enthusiastic, creative kids and their wonderful teachers. Two of the schools were in the Blue Mountains, so I also had the opportunity to stop off for lunch with the amazing Evie from Megalong Books at the lookout from which one can gaze at the Three Sisters.



And to top off the tour experience, I got this wonderful FaceBook review from Kel Butler, who came along to one of my school talks with her son…

Just saw George Ivanoff speak and was he ever entertaining! I just sat back and watched as he thoroughly engaged a room full of kids with the magic of storytelling. He practically performed a book he created WITH the kids and of course they ate it up. I’m pretty sure every single child in that room left a big fan if they weren’t one already. I really am so impressed with kids’ authors in this country. We are blessed with some of the best.

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2015 YABBA

Ingredients: 34 authors and illustrators; 300+ students; 40 shortlisted children’s books; 4 awards; and, most importantly, cake. It’s a recipe for heaps of FUN!

On Tuesday 27 October 2015, a whole bunch of authors and illustrators went along to a celebration of Aussie books that was attended by over 300 students. The location was Sacré Cœur in Glen Iris, the event was the 2015 YABBA Ceremony. BTW… YABBA stands for Young Australians Best Book Awards (just in case you were wondering).

This year’s awards ceremony was pretty special as it marked YABBA’s 30th Birthday. Of course, there was cake… a really BIG cake. Yum! And a glorious light-up sign — perfect for pic posing!

For me, the whole thing was particularly special as it was the first time one of my books had made it onto the shortlist. You Choose: The Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove was in the “Fiction for Younger Readers” category. And guess what? I won!

Wow! I won a YABBA! I’m still in shock… but it’s an excited and honoured shock. What makes this set of annual awards so special is that the books are nominated by kids. And then voted on by kids. These are the books that they actually love reading. And that’s pretty awesome!

A BIG heartfelt thank you to all the kids who have read my books, who nominated The Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove and who voted for it. You have made my year!

HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to the other winners — Aaron Blabey for Pig the Pug; Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton for The 52-Storey Treehouse; and Tristan Bancks for Two Wolves — and to all those who were nominated. It was one hell of a shortlist.

This event was also special for me because I got the chance to publically thank three authors who have had an impact on my career. During a Q&A session, I was asked if I had any writing mentors or authors who inspired me. Yes, indeed! Carol Wilkinson is a long-time friend and extraordinary writer, and each time I read one of her books I am inspired. Paul Collins has published me, encouraged me, given me advice and inspired me with the sheer volume of his writing. (I joked about how I wanted to be Paul Collins when I grew up.) Hazel Edwards is one of the most generous authors I have ever met — generous with her time, her advice and her encouragement. It was particularly wonderful to have those three authors present. :-)

Finally, to finish off this rather thank you filled post… thank you to the YABBA organisers for running the awards each year and for promoting Australian books and authors. You people do amazing work!

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Flying Doctor books

Since March I’ve been sitting on some news. I’ve been desperate to shout it from the rooftops, but I’ve had to wait until my publisher was ready to announce it. Well, that time has arrived. I can finally reveal the project I’ve been working on is a new series of kids books about the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS). These books are fiction — adventure stories set in remote parts of Australia — but feature the activities of Australia’s real-life RFDS. The first two books will be published by Random House Australia in February 2016, with a further two later in the year.

The first book, Remote Rescue, is all finished. The second book, Emergency Echo, is currently going through the editing process. And I’m busily working away on book three.

The lovely cover illustrations are by Maria Pena, an artist who’s done a lot of storyboard illustrating. Check out her website to see more of her work.

The RFDS books have been quite a change for me from the You Choose series. Single story adventures, they are much more based in reality. So there’s been a lot of research regarding locations, the activities of the RFDS and medical procedures.

These books are also different in that they are not entirely my own creation. With the You Choose books, and the Gamers trilogy before that, I came up with the idea and pitched it to the publisher. With the RFDS books, Random House initiated the series in a deal with the RFDS, then I was asked if I’d be interested in writing them. Interested? Of course I was!

It’s funny how things work out. I was first contacted about these RFDS books about a week and half before my family and I were due to set off on our Outback Adventure, driving all the way from Melbourne to Uluru and back. The timing could not have been more perfect. Our holiday was able to double as a research trip for me. I investigated potential locations and took LOTS of reference photos. I’ve ended up setting the first book in the South Australian ghost town of Farina, and the third book in Coober Pedy. [Incidentally, book two is set in Mount Magnet, a West Australian town I visited a couple of years ago on another trip.]

The Outback Adventure also gave me the chance to stop off at the RFDS base in Port Augusta. Operations manager Phil Moran was kind enough to give me and my family a tour of the facility and answer my barrage of questions, even though it was early on a Sunday morning. I even got to climb aboard an RFDS plane. That visit was the perfect start to this writing adventure.

This project has also been a good excuse for me to buy and watch the old Flying Doctors mini-series made back in the 1980s by Crawford Productions — a series that, despite a certain 1980s quaintness, holds up rather well as a quality piece of Australian drama.

I’m past the halfway point of this project, and I have been enjoying it immensely. I can’t wait for the books to actually hit the shelves!

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Sugar City Con 2015

I got to spend a weekend hanging out at a convention with Lani Tupu (Captain Crais from Farscape), Paul Eiding (man of a thousand voices, including Max Tennyson from Ben 10), Tom Taylor (author of comics such as The Deep and Injustice: Gods Among Us) and a bunch of other comic book creators. Way cool!

Oh yeah… I was also a guest at this convention along with the aforementioned famous people. I’m still coming to terms with that… I was a guest at the same event as a bunch of really famous people. So there I was trying to keep a cool calm professional exterior as I squee-ed on the inside. Well, that was the plan. Not sure I succeeded. :-)

What was the convention? I hear you ask. Sugar City Con! It was held at the Mackay Showgrounds in Queensland. It was a well-run event that ticked over like clockwork, organised by the nicest bunch of people you could possibly imagine. [Waves to Craig, Toni-Lee, Grant, Mark, Peter, Luke, Sharon, Ben and the others.]

I had a BLAST! Seriously… an absolute BLAST!

Now, I should probably point out that I didn’t spend the entire weekend stalking the other guests. I did perform some guestly duties as well. I did a Q&A session hosted by the wonderfully well-informed Sharon M Johnston, who must have done some deep digging in cyberspace to come up with some of her questions. Chatting after the session, we discovered that we had been published together in an anthology a few years ago — Basics of Life, published by the Australian Literature Review in 2011. It’s a small world!

I also conducted a writing workshop for kids, signed heaps of books and posed for lots of photos in my TARDIS jacket (my presence was actually redundant… it was the jacket people wanted to photograph!).

A HUGE thank you to the organisers of this event for inviting me. ‘Twas such an honour!

And now for some pics…




And for those of you who may have missed my earlier posts, here’s the cheesy vid I made to promote my participation…

Oh, and the outtakes…

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Book Week 2015

Book Week (and the weeks surrounding it) tends to be a busy time for kids’ authors in Australia. Lots of talking about BOOKS! And, of course, the opportunity to meet readers. Great fun!

Thank you to all the schools and libraries that have hosted me over the last couple of months. The enthusiasm of kids who love reading is what I love most about being a kids’ author. And I consider it a privilege to work with schools in encouraging this love of reading.

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Mega Exciting YOU CHOOSE News

I’m doing a happy dance! Why? Because I’ve got two bits of exciting YOU CHOOSE news to announce today. Whether these morsels of info are as thrilling for you as they are for me remains to be seen… but I’m pretty over the moon about them. So, here goes…

[insert drumroll]

YOU CHOOSE Books 1-4 will be released in two special Flip Me! editions in December — just in time for Christmas shopping. :-) The first will contain The Treasure of Dead Man’s Cove and Mayhem at Magic School, and the second will have Maze of Doom and The Haunting of Spook House. I used to love this style of two-in-one book as a kid — reading one story, then flipping it over to read the next. Very cool!


And now for announcement two…

[insert another drumroll… oh, what the hey… let’s throw in a fanfare as well]

There will be another two YOU CHOOSE books in 2016. I’ve been given the go-ahead to write Books 9 and 10 in the series. I am so excited about this, that I am bouncing up and down in my seat and I can barely keep my fingers on the keyboard as I’m typing. :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

I’ve got working titles and brief synopses all ready to go. But I can’t write them just yet, as I’m working on another series at the moment. I can’t tell you much about this other series, except that I’m working on it now, as it hasn’t been officially announced. But the second I’ve finished with it, I’ll be working on YOU CHOOSE 9 and 10.

Gloriously busy times ahead! Bring it on!

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YOU CHOOSE… cake!

Happy Publication Day to YOU CHOOSE books 7 and 8. Super Sports Spectacular and Trapped in the Games Grid hit the stores today.

To celebrate I baked a Soufflé Cheesecake. Okay… so it may have fallen apart when I took it out of the cake dish, but it still tasted YUM!

I made it yesterday, so that it would be ready to have with my cup of coffee this morning. [I may have had a test piece yesterday… just to make sure it was okay, of course.]

And so as I sit in my office, coffee in one hand, fork-full of cake in the other, my latest work-in-progress spread out on the desk in front of me… I imagine these two books sitting on shelves across the country, eagerly awaiting someone to pick them up and read them. I feel very fortunate to be in this position.

Now, go away and let me eat my cake. :-)

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In the news

My youngest daughter and I were in the Herald Sun on Friday 31 July…

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Fanboy Alert!

Me in 1984

Okay… so I’ve been a die-hard, nerdy/geeky fanboy for a lot longer than I’ve been a professional author. Way before my first book hit the shelves in 1999, I was attending sci-fi conventions, joining fan clubs and dressing up in costume. I wrote appalling Doctor Who fan fic (bashed out on a manual typewriter) and drew even worse fan art.

Me, 30 years later, in 2014


So when my fanboyishness (is there even such a word) finally gets the opportunity to collide with my pro-authorishness (I definitely know there is no such word), I know I’m headed for a whole lot of AWESOME FUN!

I’ve been invited as a guest to Sugar City Con in Mackay (Qld). It’s going to be held over the weekend of 29/30 August at the Mackay Showgrounds.

I’m a little overwhelmed at being included amongst their amazing lineup of guests, which include US voice-over actor Paul Eiding (Ben 10, Transformers), comic book artist and writer Becky Cloonan (Gotham Academy, Swamp Thing) and New York Times bestselling author, playwright and screenwriter Tom Taylor (Star Wars Blood Ties: Boba Fett is Dead). But as a big Farscape fan I’m most excited about meeting Lani Tupu, who played Captain Crais, as well as providing the voice of Pilot.

The organizers of Sugar City Con (or SCC, to those in the know) asked me to put together a little intro vid to help with event promotion. So, of course, the first thing I did was rifle through my costume cupboard to pull out a whole batch of convention outfits I’ve worn over the years. :-) Here’s the super-cheesy result…

Shooting the vid was heaps of fun… although I did almost choke on that toy mouse. Don’t believe me? Check out the outtakes…

And yes, I know… I’ve misspelled my own name in the video titles. But it’s a compilation of outtakes — so that mistake actually seems rather appropriate. In fact, it was deliberate. No really… honestly… I did it on purpose. ;-)

Anyway… I am counting down the days to Sugar City Con. It’s gonna be a BLAST!

Posted in Appearances, Doctor Who | 2 Comments